Victoria-area MLA Rob Fleming has ruled out a bid for the leadership of the B.C. NDP, leaving two candidates in the race to pick a successor to Adrian Dix.
New Democrats are to pick a new leader for the opposition party over four days of voting that end Sept. 28.
In a statement Saturday, the party's education critic gave no specific reason for his decision, but noted the leaders' job required "enormous personal sacrifices," adding he has tremendous respect for those who are running.
Mr. Fleming, the MLA for Victoria Beacon Hill first elected to the legislature in 2005, said he would not now be endorsing a candidate for the leadership.
"One thing at a time. I've wrestled with a difficult decision on not going forward with my own candidacy this week," he said in a further statement.
The former Victoria city councillor was not otherwise available for comment.
The current candidates are energy critic John Horgan, also from Vancouver Island, and finance critic Mike Farnworth, a former NDP cabinet minister who represents the riding of Port Coquitlam. Both men ran in the last leadership race in 2011. Mr. Farnworth placed second to Mr. Dix and Mr. Horgan came third.
On Sunday, Mr. Horgan said he now has the support of almost half the 34-member B.C. NDP caucus. At a rally in New Westminster, Mr. Horgan introduced 10 MLAs, who have decided to support him. That makes for a total 15 MLAs..
MLAs already supporting Mr. Horgan included former party leader Carole James and David Eby, a rookie MLA known for winning Vancouver-Point Grey in the 2013 election over Premier Christy Clark. Newcomers who declared Sunday include seven Lower Mainland MLAs in Surrey, Burnaby, and New Westminster such as former union leader Judy Darcy, Kathy Corrigan and Mable Elmore.
Several MPs and MLAs publicly mused about seeking the leadership after Mr. Dix announced last September that he would leave as soon as the party picked a successor. Most, like Mr. Fleming, have ruled out running for various reasons.
The party is coming off the May 2013 election it was expected to win given strong numbers in the polls. However, the B.C. Liberals managed to win a fourth straight majority under the leadership of Ms. Clark.